Rockin' Picture Books
Learners demonstrate their knowledge of the rock cycle by creating picture books.
By Dawn Dodson
Subject integration allows students to use concepts and skills from multiple content areas. It can range anywhere from designing lessons, to class projects, to units of study. For example, the language arts classroom is an easily adaptable setting where learners can combine reading and writing skills with other content areas. My own quest to include science into the curriculum took place in order to attract interest and engagement in writing nonfiction. In collaboration with the science teacher, we planned and coordinated a writing project that allowed students to make the most of their knowledge gained in both classrooms. The project assigned was to create an illustrated picture book about the rock cycle. Using the Common Core State Standards, we developed a project that incorporated both content areas. The following were the key ingredients to a successfully-integrated project.
Planning the project included giving each instructor time to introduce and assess content. In my own classroom, I wanted writers learn to adjust to workshop routines and basic research skills. Additionally, the rock cycle content needed to be mastered in science class. Once both classes came to this meeting point, we were ready for the project. The guidelines were introduced in both classes, and final scores taken in both classes. However, the majority of the writing, revising, editing, and final publication work took place in the language arts class.
The picture book project required students to creatively use their knowledge of the rock cycle to write and illustrate a picture book that would both entertain and inform elementary children. This required pupils to be aware of vocabulary and word choice. They had to produce writing that was both educational and age-appropriate. It also made writers conscious of the message they were conveying. Multiple drafts were created and revised. Their final stories were clever; ranging from super hero rocks to a family of rocks awaiting the arrival of a new family member.
Along with individual writing conferences with the teacher, writers’ feedback groups were created to guide the process. All peer editors were responsible for submitting at least two summaries of other writers’ stories, outlining the main idea, details, and theme of each. Once drafts were revised and edited, writers used an online publication company to type their final drafts and scan illustrations. The company bound each story into a hard cover edition. These were presented to our class, and then read to elementary pupils in our district.
An immediate benefit of this project was the ability for the teachers to identify those class members who needed extra help with one or both content areas. Another benefit was watching pupils enjoy different aspects of the project. For instance, the illustrations were creative and unique. A variety of mediums were used, which helped maintain engagement for the reluctant writers. The science-minded pupils were able to be the experts during content-focused writing conferences, while the talented writers were given an opportunity to aide others in their creative writing. The end result was rewarding for teachers and learners alike. The teachers were able to observe students analyze and synthesize content into their picture books. Learners, on the other hand, were engaged in a variety of skills that showcased talents in art, technology, writing, and presentation.
ELA Common Core Connections:
The following language arts standards were used during this project:
RL.6.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
W.6.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
W.6.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
W.6.10: Write routinely over extended time frames for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
More content integration ideas:
After investigating various toys and how they work, learners develop their own toy museum about the toys studied. Reviews of the museum exhibits are created.
Although tailored to fit younger pupils, this solar system study integrates art, literature, and writing into a science investigation. As an extension, learners create journals. The basic structure can easily be modified with grade-specific materials.
Integrate art, science, social studies, and language arts research and inquiry into discovering ancient Egypt architecture. This lesson is sure to engage students from research and writing to building models of the architecture studied.
This lesson focuses on learning through reading and writing about the rain forest. Learners will be provided with a variety of literature and writing experiences, from research essays to poems. This unit integrates multiple content area knowledge.